Just back from a week in Paris...

Old Oct 21st, 2002, 11:09 AM
  #1  
Meommy
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Just back from a week in Paris...

I would like to return the favor for the information I have gotten from this talk site. My husband and I spent our 10th anniversary in Paris - 7 days Oct 12-19. I relied on travel books for many things like telephoning, tips on sight seeing and the metro/train system. For instance an outside line from my hotel required you to dial a 0 - who'd have guessed that? 9 was the line to the reservation desk.

I didn't find published information on restaurants helpful - we read menus (they must be posted at every restaurant) and often got the prix fix dinner. We found good food very inexpensively consistently. At this time of year the prix fix menus were about 8-15 euros(!). This included an app or salad, main dish and dessert. We often ate salads for dinner at Bistro-type places. We always ordered wine and found the house ones good - and that buying a bottle at a restaurant or store was fairly cheap - 20 euro for a bottle seemed to be on the higher side where we ate.

I wish I had figured out how to ask for "un carafe d'eau" earlier - the tap water is fine and I got sick of paying for bottled water. I noticed the locals always got a carafe of water - I got the $$ bottles!

We figured out the Metro when we realized Direction is the key - you need to determine the "direction" you are headed in (the last stop on the line you are on) to know which way to go. We took the train to Versailles and realized that the train arrivals were posted on a neon-type sign near the tracks - flashing when your train was coming. We did have a panicked time taking the train to the airport at 5:30 AM - it was hard to figure out which was which with the Metro and train stations all together. Thank God we had bought the train tickets the night before! We did take a taxi from the airport to our hotel (near Notre Dame on the left bank) - best advice I got since we had no idea where we were at that point. I might take the train from the airport next time just because I know what to do - including finding out the Metro stop for my hotel.

We got to Versailles and the Louvre early - enabling us to see much of it with very few people around. We loved the private tour of the King's chambers at Versailles. We stayed at the Louvre longer than planned because each next room was too interesting to pass up!

We went to Museum D'Orsay and found the Museum Pass holder entrance - walking past the line snaking for blocks around the building - saving a good hour of waiting. We loved the Illumination Tour recommended by many (bus trip at night around the city). Got to the Eiffel tower late and really regretted it - huge line outside and then again and again inside as you made it up to the top. Late afternoon is a good idea for that too.

We wore money belts and used the hotel safe. We had one gypsy child try to charm my husband at Notre Dame. Everyone knew someone who had been pickpocketed - one tourist we met had been in the Moulin Rouge area at night - the red light district really - and they saw policemen gathering up loads of thieves - many very nice looking ones. We saw a lot of policemen walking the beat - and they seemed to travel in threes at all times. That was a little unnerving but we felt comfortable at all times - we were never out until the wee hours though. We brought running gear - foolishly. We walked so much and climbed so many stairs running was totally unneccesary.

We liked our typical small French hotel but it struck me that many are totally non-handicap accessible. No elevator at ours and it was a narrow staircase to our room. You also had to step into the bath/shower over the tub edge which was really high up. None of this bothered us but I thought of my parents who could not do this.

I'll try to answer any quick questions.
 
Old Oct 21st, 2002, 11:17 AM
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xx
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What is the name of your hotel? How did you find it?
 
Old Oct 21st, 2002, 11:19 AM
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Judy
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Thanks for the info. What were the highlights of your touring around Paris? Can you recommend some of the inexpensive restaurants that you ate in? Do you know if the Eiffel Tower is less crowded at night as it is late afternoon? Thanks Meommy!
 
Old Oct 22nd, 2002, 06:19 AM
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Judy
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topping
 
Old Nov 7th, 2002, 10:13 AM
  #5  
Meommy
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Sorry for the delay - I am not a regular on here. The hotel was "Degres de Notre Dame" 100 euro per night - typical small (10 room) French hotel. Breakfast included (croissant, cafe au lait, bread). This hotel is in the Latin Quarter - close to Notre Dame Cathedral. I asked a friend who lived in Paris one year and had stayed in that hotel last April. I looked up any info on it and found good reviews (random web searching). I did not keep track of any of the restaurants because we did it all by chance. We did try to find a recommended restaurant (Rick Steve's book) but either did not find it or it didn't look good. The best one we found by asking a young woman who was the sole person running a small shop. All others we just went by looks - I don't think yoi ucan go very wrong - we skipped all places with owners hustling for customers - many were doing this and Greek ones were even breaking plates on the sidewalk to catch attention. Favorite things: a concert (6 cellos) at St. Chapelle, Versailles and the private apt tour, Napolean's tomb and the WWII museum there, and the Illumination Tour. Most places are not busy (at least in Oct.) in the afternoon. You can beat crowds by being early (opening time) or go in the late afternoon. We were sorry we hit the Eiffel Tower at peak time - about 10:30am. It would have been much less of a wait around 4:00pm I think.

Nice gifts were scarves - easy to pack and inexpensive. My son loved the English version of Harry Potter I bought at the bookstore - a huge chain in Paris - they had a specific location that housed English versions.
 
Old Nov 7th, 2002, 10:19 AM
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Meommy
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Oh yeah - we were served fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. They charged 7-8 euros for the breakfast for the non-guest people.
 
Old Nov 7th, 2002, 11:39 AM
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Judy
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Thanks for the info. Judy
 
Old Nov 7th, 2002, 12:50 PM
  #8  
Linda
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Meommy, who did you use for the Illumination Tour and do you remember how much it was? Thanks!
 
Old Nov 7th, 2002, 10:53 PM
  #9  
Linda
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Meommy, who did you use for the Illumination Tour and do you remember how much it was? Thanks!
 
Old Nov 9th, 2002, 06:18 PM
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Me,too
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I'd love to know more about the Illumination Tour. Please. Thank you.
 
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 01:11 AM
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gg
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Last Nov. had to layover in Paris unexpectedly due to missed connection. I had been to Paris several times but friend had not. I wanted to find someway to show her as much as possible that one night. We took the Illuminations and Seine cruise package. Even though I had visited before, I really enjoyed it. We went to the office of ParisVision and got on a bus that took us all throught the city to see the most famous sights all "aglow", recorded commentary was available but I just relaxed and "looked". Then went on the Seine cruise seeing the bridges and other sights in lights from the water. I really recommend it. I want to take my husband on this when we return. My friend really enjoyed this also. I think the package bus & boat was about $32 or so but I can't remember for sure. Happy travels to all.
 
Old Nov 14th, 2002, 05:34 AM
  #12  
Meommy
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The PAris Vision tour was the one we took - as described in gg's post. It might have been $20 for the Illumination Tour only. I agree - the package deal (including the Seine tour) is a great way to see a lot in a short time.
 
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